Jay Leno takes a spin in a 1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal

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What’s your definition of a supercar? Does a car need to have a certain look to be considered “super,” or is it about performance? Both? Jay Leno believes the 1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal meets the definition of a supercar.

It may not have a mid-engine layout or scissor doors, but the Montreal was fairly exotic for its time. The car was designed by Marcello Gandini, who also designed the Lamborghini Miura and Countach. A 2.6-liter, fuel-injected V-8 with double overhead cams produces 220 horsepower, tasked with moving 2,932 pounds. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission with a dogleg shifter. Top speed is 136 mph. All impressive numbers for the car’s time.

Rarity is an important part of the supercar mystique, too, and the Montreal certainly has that. Just 3,925 were made between 1970 and 1977. The car was never officially sold in the United States when new, but it now qualifies for importation under the 25-year rule.

1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal on Jay Leno's Garage

1971 Alfa Romeo Montreal on Jay Leno’s Garage

Why is an Italian performance car named after a Canadian city? Because it started out as a concept car, unveiled at the 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal. Public reaction was so strong that Alfa decided to put the Montreal into production.

The Montreal has some stereotypically-Italian foibles, according to Leno. The four cams and Spica mechanical fuel injection complicate maintenance, which Leno says makes this one car you definitely need to let warm up before driving. The driving position is bus-like, too, with Leno mentioning that it’s at least good for getting leverage on the unassisted steering while parallel parking.

Alfa doesn’t have a flagship coupe like the Montreal in its current lineup. The automaker previously discussed plans for a coupe reviving the classic GTV name, as well as a high-end model reviving the 8C moniker. But both models have been canceled.

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